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By B.L. Ochman

You just never know what will go viral, despite what any number of self-appointed social media gurus may tell, or sell, you. Proof in point, “Dumb Ways to Die,” an impossibly sweet (really) video about gruesome ways to die around trains. Seems an unlikely hit, but when you look closely, the reasons are clear.

Featuring a variety of adorable cartoon characters killing themselves in a myriad of stupid ways, its purpose is to demonstrate the dangers lurking on platforms, tracks, and crossings. The website includes a red button viewers press to take a pledge to be safe around trains.

The song and weirdly endearing characters are part of a campaign produced by Melbourne, Australia’s Metro Trains and it’s fast approaching 11 million global YouTube views, less than one week after it was launched. The song is performed by Tangerine Kitty, who are Ollie McGill from The Cat Empire and Emily Lubitz of the brother and sister duo, Tinpan Orange. Guaranteed, “Dumb Ways to Die’s” catchy chorus will stay in your head all day.

The campaign is aimed at young people, who tend to see themselves as indestructible, Leah Waymark, Metro Trains’ PR person told the Australia’s Courrier Mail. “We felt images of body bags were more likely to have an impact on their parents, so we wanted to engage with young people in a way we think they might appeal to them a bit more.”

Why Dumb Ways to Die is going viral
While Ms. Waymark expressed surprise over the astounding speed with which the video went viral, there are many reasons for its success, including:
o The creative is funny, intriguing and surprising
o The subject is something people can relate to and care about
o It has a clear cut message so people are able to pass it on with one descriptive sentence
o Nobody sent out an email or press release announcing the launch of “our latest viral video” or said “we’re launching a new viral tomorrow.”

The video was created by McCann, Australia. There’s also a Tumblr blog, which chronicles media coverage of the video.